Generally, the reason for such custom built complexes for specific sports is that these by themselves are very lucrative and make sound financial sense. It is a well-known fact that sports attract the most monies in terms of sponsorship as well as ticket sales.
Though the returns vary from sport to sport and game to game, they still remain viable, otherwise obviously the venue will be converted into something else which is more lucrative such as a shopping mall, apartments etc. or sold off at a premium to iteal estate agents.
An international example that can be cited to drive home the point would be that of United Center, the basketball venue in Chicago, US which is home to the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls as a team are campaigning for the 3rdconsecutive NBA title having won it for the past two successive years. Going into the Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, the commentators revealed some astounding statistics regarding the venue.
This was the 540thconsecutive sellout crowd to watch the NBA Basketball matches at the United Center, Chicago The event here generates so much hype and excitement that lasers during the introduction of the players and other hi- tech equipment have made this game more than just a sporting encounter.
The popularity of basketball as a game can also be judged from the fact that the live coverage of these matches is beamed into 618 million households worldwide.
Even though there is rank commercialization of the game, sanctity of the game is maintained since there are hardly any logos on the vests and shorts of the players endorsing any particular sponsor.
In fact, the timing of the games is in tune with the demands of the prime time concept in the television industry. The numerous breaks during the game also provide added opportunity for more advertisements to be shown.
Sponsors usually focus on the live audience, in- venue signage and merchandising at such venues and facilities are provided for the same in terms of the exclusiveness offered to the sponsor.
Sports were just an example. Similar customized venues exist for music concerts (Rang Bhavan in Mumbai), Exhibitions (World Trade Center, Discovery of India Building in Mumbai) and of course, other event variations such as the numerous halls for weddings and other religious purposes etc.
Though this is a standard practice, it is entirely the discretion of the venue management to allow events of other categories to occur at their site. For instance, it is again pretty common to find music concerts being arranged at sports venue though there are specific music halls and parks available.
This might be due to constraints on account of availability, the capacity, and rate or infrastructure requirements demanded by the event concept. However, this is not a fully favorable situation. A musical night on a sports ground may not be able to exploit the entire available seating capacity of the/stadium.
The organizers will also have to arrange for the extra seating, barricading, entry and points and other arrangements on the ground after leaving space for the stage and sets etc.
This means that the capacity of the stadium is virtually increased to include the capacity that can be exploited by seating people on the ‘grounds meant as a specific requirement for a game.
Even the acoustics have to be checked and designed to ensure against faults and failures. Yet another constraint imposed on event organizers in such a situation is the utmost care and caution to be exercised not to damage the grounds in any way.
What this means in practice is that the normal way of working by the labour is disrupted. This invariably leads to excessive delays and costs. Therefore, events executed on venues meant for other categories of events entail hardships that are avoidable.
Also, venues such as the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California where Football games are held, there are no dedicated staff to attend to the demands of an actual event that is held there.
Armies of volunteers and part time workers are assembled and coordinated by the event organizers analyses one such event held in the Coliseum between the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks in August 2000.
The most important factor when considering a venue is the availability factor. The amount of time that the venue is required for the event is a summation of the actual event time and the time required for completion of the pre and post- event activities i.e., erection and dismantling of the infrastructure involved.
The capacity of the venue is another major issue. The demands of the event concept decided from the brief have to be met. Since the rates for the venue also form a major portion in the costing for the event, a venue should be considered only if it meets the requirements as defined by the concept since capacity and infrastructure available have a decisive impact on the rates for the venue.
Rates for venues vary with the season for the event. Each category of event or a particular variation may have a certain peak season when the event is very popular and in demand. In such times, the rates for venues are very high and usually go either on a first-come-first-served basis or to the highest bidder.
At the same time, most venues offer large and inviting off-season discounts to make up for the slack in demand. In 1998, The Taj Hotel offered discounts on its conference rooms between June and September-the monsoon season, making it affordable for even small businesses to make use of its facilities.
There are two types of venues, in-house and external, and these should also be kept in mind during the conceptualization process. Sometimes the concept has to be modified to suit the realities of the venue and this can distort the costing beyond recognition.
Therefore, the importance of general guideline should be kept in mind by the event organizers while scouting for a venue. Venue selection should take into consideration the category of event for which venue is specially meant, i.e. whether it is originally a venue meant for sports (specify which game), music, exhibition, weddings, fairs, etc. It is also very essential that the suitability of indoor or outdoor venues should be checked out.
An indoor venue entails the necessity to check on the availability of air conditioning. The total area and actual area-after subtracting the off-limit areas, swimming pools etc.-need to be calculated.
The maximum seating capacity is worked out based on the area and may increase or decrease for different events and venues depend on the performance area and visibility of this area to the audience.
The quality of the facilities such as interiors, acoustics, ambience, cleanliness and other technical requirements should be meticulously defined and provided for. Basic infrastructure such as cool drinking water, fan, lighting and hygiene arrangements are necessities at every venue irrespective of which event category the venue is meant for.
Monopoly of caterers and decorators are prevalent at most venues; therefore, a proper inquiry should be done and the event design should provide for the increase in costs that a monopoly usually leads to.
Contingencies such as power failures need to be tackled and the need for generators should be properly assessed. Contingency plans need to be built for disruptions that can be caused due to the changes in weather.
The performance area should be designed based on the load that is to be carried within the area available and at such a height that it is clearly visible to the maximum number of people.
Most venues have standard restrictions. These restrictions should be understood clearly since these could be decor, food and beverages, monopolies, working hours, holidays or smoking restrictions. The mode and type of payments for venues depend on the arrangement that is negotiated.
Though these guidelines may not be comprehensive, it covers the entire spectrum of operational points to be kept in mind while making a decision on selection of a venue.
Taking our discussion on venues further, most venues fall under the categories of in-house or external venues. These are presented in the following section.
Any event that is executed within the premises of the company or institution or in the private homes or properties belonging to the client is called an in-house venue. In fact, the companies or individuals themselves might be organising the event.
Most in-house venues do not need to be paid or even if a payment is involved, it may be open for favourable negotiation. Large corporates and institutions usually have conference rooms, halls or open spaces within their companies and their campuses where events can be held.
These can be indoor or outdoor and the advantage is the huge saving in the costs incurred in hiring the venue. The use of such facilities is reserved for the employees of the company or residents of the campus.
Most clubs in fact derive their roots in the foundation of a venue, in that the venue gets internalised for a specific number of club members and whose membership is restricted to a chosen few with similar characteristics.
Any venue over which neither the client nor the professional event organisers have any ownership rights is called an external venue. These are venues open for the general public and anyone can rent these venues for organising events.
Usually, hotels have halls and rooms specifically meant for specific occasions and events that can be utilized either by corporates, individuals, families, etc. Stadia are good examples of this type of venue.
Constraints forced by the lack of such a facility in-house make for the need of external venues. Most events are held at external venues.
Some events are in fact venue-driven. For instance, amusement parks such as Fantasy Land and Essel World in Mumbai and Appu Ghar in Delhi need various events to be happening at their parks to increase the customer traffic.
Therefore, small budget events and theme parties for celebration of festivals such as Valentine’s Day or Holi see venues playing the clients’ role for the event organisers.
At the same time, a profit sharing arrangement on the ticket sales can turn the venue management into a partner in the event and the ticket buyer becomes the customer for both the event organiser as well as the venue.
Another major role that a venue plays in the scheme of things is that it has a say in the very feasibility of an event concept. A particular concept may be dependent on the infrastructural facilities available or the capacity of the venue or may have designed to take into consideration limitations in the venue.
Any change of venue, unless to a very similar one, shall result in disruption of the event or in a poor quality event. Thus, a mutual understanding between the event organisers and the venue management is very essential given the important role that the venue plays in the execution of the event concept.